IDF soldiers who killed unarmed Palestinian set for community service
+972 blog 19 Dec by ‘John Brown’ — Two IDF soldiers shot Samir Awad from behind eight times in January 2013, killing him. Nearly four years and a string of investigative failures later, it looks unlikely that either of the accused will go to jail — In January 2013, Israeli soldiers killed Palestinian teen Samir Awad in the West Bank village of Budrus, after shooting him eight times from behind. The shooters, A. and B. — a commander and a soldier — were indicted last January, three years after the killing, on charges of “recklessness and negligence.” The names of the accused are barred from publication. At a hearing last November, the state prosecutor proposed a compromise of three months’ community service for the two soldiers, along with a conditional sentence and damages payable to Awad’s family. The proposal was made with the intention of seeing off any potential future civil lawsuit from the teen’s relatives. The defense rejected the offer, demanding that the two soldiers escape conviction altogether. Although the proposed punishment is minimal given nature of the incident, it is surprising that the indictment stage was reached at all, given the attempts of the IDF’s investigative and prosecutorial authorities to try and undermine the inquiry….
Here is Mondoweiss’s original reporting on Samir Awad’s murder: http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/palestinian-teenager-military/
Violence / Detention — West Bank / Jerusalem
Palestinian shot dead by Israeli forces during East Jerusalem clashes
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 22 Dec — Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian overnight Wednesday, after he allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail at Israeli soldiers during clashes that erupted in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr ‘Aqab when Israeli troops raided the area to carry out a punitive home demolition. The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the slain Palestinian as 19-year-old Ahmad Kharoubi. There were no injuries among Israeli forces, according to the Israeli army. Kharoubi was critically injured after being shot with live ammunition in the neck, and died shortly after his arrival to the hospital. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that after suspects threw improvised explosive devices at Israeli soldiers, Israeli forces opened fire on one of the suspects, which “resulted in his death.”
The clashes erupted in the wake of an Israeli army raid to partially demolish the house of Misbah Abu Sbeih who was shot dead by Israeli forces in October after carrying out a shooting attack in occupied East Jerusalem, killing one Israeli civilian and one Israeli police officer. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered on Monday that the interior walls of the home be destroyed and its exterior entrances and windows be sealed, despite the fact that Abu Sbeih’s widow and five children — the youngest of them 10 and the oldest 18 — were still residing in the house.The deadline set by the court for them to evacuate the home ended at dawn Thursday morning. Misbah’s brother, Jaber Abu Sbeih, told Ma‘an Thursday morning that the family had appealed the demolition order, particularly on the grounds that the home belonged to their father, not Misbah himself. However, the court rejected the appeal….
Israeli forces shoot live ammunition during clashes in Shu‘fat refugee camp
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli forces and undercover Israeli police officers Tuesday afternoon raided the Shu‘fat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem, causing clashes to break out as Israeli forces shot live ammunition, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youths. A spokesman of the Fatah movement in the camp, Thaer al-Fasfous, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces raided the camp and then left shortly after, adding that the soldiers “misled” the Palestinian youths by “giving the impression that Israeli forces had completed its raid on the camp and wouldn’t come back.” However, Israeli soldiers returned shortly after with Israeli police officers disguised as Arabs, and proceeded to raid the camp again, detaining a number of young men, al-Fasfous said, but did not provide the exact number of detentions carried out by Israeli forces. Al-Fasfous added that Israeli forces and undercover Israeli police officers fired live ammunition, tear gas, and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian youths during the raid … Shu‘fat refugee camp is located in northeastern Jerusalem within Israel’s municipal boundaries of the city, but is encircled on three sides by Israel’s separation wall, forcing residents to pass through a congested military checkpoint to access the rest of Jerusalem where most claim residency status….
Israeli police detain teenager over stab attack carried out 2 months ago
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli police Tuesday detained a 17-year-old Palestinian from the occupied West Bank district of Jerusalem after he allegedly stabbed an Israeli border officer near the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Adar two months ago, according to Israeli media. Israeli media reported that the border police officer was “lightly wounded in the shoulder” during the stabbing, adding that Israeli authorities had discovered during their investigations that the suspect had “for a long period observed the security forces moving adjacent to the security fence in the vicinity of his house and had noted their movements.” On the day of the attack, Israeli media said the Palestinian teenager had “stalked” Israeli border police, and soon after attacked one of the officers and wounded him in the shoulder before escaping. The identity of the Palestinian teenager was unknown as of Tuesday.
Israeli forces detain 18 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 18 Palestinians — many of whom were teenagers — in military raids between Monday evening and Tuesday morning across the occupied West Bank, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources. According to a statement from the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS), six Palestinian youths were detained from the Jerusalem district, who were identified by the organization as Amer Ubeid, 13-year-old Muhammad Dari, 13-year-old Ahmad Zeidani, 17-year-old Muhammad Mustafa, 17-year-old Khalid Abu Ghush, and 22-year-old Amer Zeidani. Two young Palestinians were detained from the village of Rantis west of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank. The statement identified them as Ahmad Ali Nadav, 28, and Muhammad Jamal Husha, 27.
North of Ramallah in Birzeit, Israeli forces also attempted to raid a bank Monday night. Deputy National Manager of the Housing Bank said the forces failed to enter the bank and failed in their attempt to seize security cameras and footage. Clashes broke out in the village following the raids, as Israeli forces fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades, according to local sources.
Also on Monday night, Israeli forces detained 18-year-old Firas Amjad Jabir from al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah. He was first summoned by Israeli intelligence for questioning before he was taken into custody. In the southern Bethlehem district, PPS said that Israeli forces detained 18-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Taqatqa in the village of Beit Fajjar, where 14-year-old Qusai Nael Taqatqa was detained in an overnight raid the previous day. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli troops stormed the town after midnight Tuesday morning and ransacked several homes before they detained Muhammad Taqatqa and delivered summonses to 11-year-old Ali Deriyya and 12-year-old Awni Taqatqa, demanding that the children appear for questioning at Israel’s Gush Etzion military base. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were detained in Beit Fajjar in predawn raids Tuesday, and added that two additional Palestinians were detained in raids near Qalqiliya in the northern occupied West Bank. Israeli forces also detained Ubaidah Jabour in the northern West Bank town of Salem in Nablus district, according to PPS, which was also confirmed by an Israeli army spokesperson. The PPS statement highlighted that Israeli forces also detained three Palestinians from the Hebron district in the southern West Bank on Monday night. They were identified as 20-year-old Muhammad Hammad al-Alami in the village of Beit Ummar, Ahmad Badran Ibruish, and Muhammad Talib Awad. Furthermore, Muhammad Mahmoud Alawneh from the Jenin district was detained while he was inside Israel, according to PPS.
Israeli forces detain 26 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Israeli forces detained at least 26 Palestinians, including seven minors, in raids across the occupied West Bank between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, Israeli and Palestinian sources reported. Hebron and Bethlehem districts In the southernmost West Bank district of Hebron, the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) reported that Israeli forces detained six Palestinians, identified as Alaa Mazen Abu Dabus, 24, Hassan Rafiq Dababsa, Ihab Anwar Hawwarin, Muhammad Zamil Ishneiwar, Uday Kamil, and Hamza al-Rajabi. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were detained in the Hebron district, listing one in the village of Yatta, and another in al-Dhahiriya. In the Bethlehem district, PPS said that Israeli forces detained seven minors in the village of Beit Fajjar. The group identified them as Ahmad Muhammad Taqatqa, Ahmad Nidal Taqatqa, Muhammad Ayman Taqatqa, Ibrahim Jibril Taqatqa, Radi Salah Taqatqa, Iyad Nader Taqatqa, all 15 years old, and Yazan Nabil Deriyeh, 17. Ramallah and Salfit districts In the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, PPS reported that Muhammad Majid Khalaf and Fakher Ruslan Hamad were detained in the village of Rantis. The Israeli army confirmed two detentions in Rantis. Meanwhile, PPS said that brothers Mahmoud and Abd al-Karim al-Yousif were detained in the Salfit district.The army said that two Palestinians were detained in the Salfit-area village of Kifl Haris. Qalqiliya and Nablus districts In the northern West Bank, PPS reported that Muhammad Abd al-Fattah Abu Haniyeh, 18, was detained in the Qalqiliya district. In the Nablus district, the organization and Palestinian security forces reported that Muntaser Talal Dweikat, Mahmoud Ali Badrasawi, Walid Jamal Assida, 23, Asid Khalid Rihan, 23, Talib Samir Silwadi, and brothers Muath and Majid Bilal Shtayeh were detained overnight by Israeli forces. Palestinian security sources told Ma‘an that Dweikat is the son of Nablus Mayor Talal Dweikat, and that Assida, Rihan, Silwadi, and the Shtayeh brothers were all detained in the village of Tell..The Israeli army did not mention detentions in the city of Nablus or in Tell, but told Ma‘an that two Palestinians were detained in Askar refugee camp.
Restriction of movement
Jerusalem woman turns herself in to prison after being banned from the city
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) — A Palestinian woman and mother of four turned herself in to serve a seven-month prison sentence at Israel’s Russian Compound in Jerusalem on Monday, after Israeli authorities charged her with “illegally” staying in Jerusalem after she was banned from the city for being a security threat. Shifa al-Shaludi Ubeido, 37, originally from Hebron, holds a West Bank ID and had been residing in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan with her husband and four children for 18 years under the “family reunification” status in Israel. After her husband married another woman and left al-Shaludi to take care of her four children alone, her residency status under the reunification law was revoked and she remained in Jerusalem on temporary permits.
Al-Shaludi was detained along with one of her sons in October 2015, when Israeli soldiers raided her home in Silwan. She was accused of incitement, involvement with stone-throwing, and assaulting an Israeli police officer. She spent 40 days in Israeli prison, was released on bail, and sentenced to 11 months of house arrest for the charges, lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud told Ma’an on Tuesday. Her Jerusalem permit was also officially revoked for “security reasons,” restricting her from entering Jerusalem for three years. On Dec. 1, an Israeli magistrate’s court sentenced Shaludi to seven months in prison for the charges, and an additional five months on probation for three years … “I don’t know what I will do after I complete my sentence. My home is in Jerusalem and my children study in Jerusalem schools. Today I am turning myself into the unknown, and after my release, yet another unknown awaits me.” … Israel’s permit regime has often times split up Palestinian families when several members hold different residency statuses, a system which Palestinian nonprofit BADIL has said rests on “entirely arbitrary distinctions.”….
Prisoners / Court actions
Israeli authorities deny winter clothing to Palestinian detainees
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Dec — Amidst freezing winter weather, Israeli occupation forces have banned winter clothes for Palestinian prisoners in Negev Prison, it was revealed on Tuesday. The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) said that Israeli authorities prevented the entry of the winter clothing which Palestinian families had sent to their sons being held inside the prison. According to PPS, all the families of the Palestinian prisoners have bought winter clothes and other kits for their sons, and sent them to the prison. “However, the Israeli Prison Service had accepted the clothes and the other kits, but the prisoners said that they did not receive anything,” a statement from the organization said. PPS also noted that Palestinian detainees inside Israeli jails, mainly the prisons in Al-Naqab Desert, suffer from the freezing weather in winter.
Opinion: OMG, Prisoners get cellphones / Amira Hass
Haaretz 21 Dec — …The history of smuggling objects into prisons is as old as the history of prisons around the world, and they come to serve basic needs such as maintaining contact with families. In contrast to criminal inmates and to ultra-nationalist racist Jewish prisoners, Palestinian political and security prisoners are prohibited from using public phones. There are no furloughs either, or conjugal visits with spouses. Only oppression, humiliation and discrimination disguised as security considerations … The prisoners assume that the security services are tracing calls. For this reason, of the hundreds of phones smuggled in over the last 20 years, only a small number were probably used for purposes deemed dangerous by Israel. The vast majority of users simply want to maintain contact with their homes and the outside world, especially since Israel severely restricts visits. The claim that cellphones in the hands of Palestinian inmates pose a widespread security risk is nonsense. Nonsense that aims to increase ultra-nationalist incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel through an inflation of the gravity of the suspicions attached to MK Bael Ghattas. When the furor subsides, new ways of smuggling in cellphones will be found. If one really wanted to prevent future smuggling, the authorities should allow Palestinian prisoners to use public phones.…
Committee: Hunger strikers Shadid and Abu Farah in critical condition amid court delays
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners Anas Shadid and Ahmad Abu Farah were in critical condition after going 89 and 90 days without food respectively, the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs said on Wednesday, calling for immediate action to save their lives. Shadid and Abu Farah were both detained on Aug. 1 and have been on hunger strike since Sept. 24 and Sept. 23 respectively, in protest of their imprisonment without charge or trial under Israel’s widely condemned policy of administrative detention. In addition to refusing food, Abu Farah and Shadid began refusing to consume water last week after the court rejected an appeal to release them, when Israeli prosecutors instead called for the extension of their administrative detention orders. Committee lawyers Karim Ajweh and Nassim Abu Ghosh, who visited the two Palestinians currently detained in the Israeli hospital Assaf Harofeh, expressed concern for both hunger strikers. Ajweh and Abu Ghosh said that Shadid was suffering from pains all over his body, kidney and liver problems, could not move, and had difficulty speaking. They added that Abu Farah was also in a very critical condition, having also lost the ability to speak and move, and suffered from severe kidney, stomach, and eyesight issues. The lawyers called for broader pressure to be applied on Israeli authorities to obtain the end of Shadid and Abu Farah’s administrative detentions. The Israeli Supreme Court held a hearing on Tuesday evening on their cases, but did not take a decision regarding the appeal presented by the hunger strikers’ lawyers, saying it would examine medical reports….
Palestinian prisoner suspends hunger strike before court session
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Palestinian prisoner Ammar Ibrahim Hamour suspended his hunger strike on Wednesday after at least 30 days without food as the prisoner awaits a court session scheduled on Dec. 28, according to the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs. Head of the committee Issa Qaraqe said in a statement that Hamour decided to suspend his hunger strike after Israeli authorities promised not to renew his administrative detention order — an Israeli policy of internment without charge or trial based on undisclosed evidence, leading up to a court session next week. Qaraqe also noted that Hamour was transferred from solitary confinement in Israel’s Beer Sheva prison to Israel’s Ashkelon prison, in the latest of several prison transfers of Hamour by Israeli authorities. Israeli authorities have already issued two six-month administrative detention orders against Hamour since he was initially detained by Israeli forces more than nine months ago. Hamour, 28, is from the village of Jabaa in the Jenin district of the northern occupied West Bank.
Amnesty denounces extended detention of Palestinian journalist, activist Hassan Safadi
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 — Ahead of a hearing to renew the administrative detention of Palestinian journalist and activist Hassan Safadi, human rights group Amnesty International condemned on Monday the latest example of Israel’s “long-standing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders.” Israeli forces detained Safadi — who works as a media coordinator for prisoners rights group Addameer — as he crossed the Allenby Bridge between the occupied West Bank and Jordan in May, keeping him under Israeli military interrogation for forty days. Israeli authorities sentenced the 25-year-old Palestinian to six months of administrative detention — internment without trial or charges — in June, on the same day that his parents paid a 2,500-shekel ($650) bail for his release. Safadi’s administrative detention was extended by another six months on Dec. 7, Amnesty reported, with a court hearing scheduled for Dec. 23 to confirm the extension. According to Amnesty, Safadi was also sentenced in October to three months in prison for visiting an “enemy country” — Lebanon — where he had attended a conference on justice, accountability, and prisoners’ rights. While Lebanon legally forbids entry to individuals who have traveled to Israel, it is not officially illegal to enter Israel with a passport stamped by Lebanon. In its statement, Amnesty called on Israeli authorities to “release Hassan Ghassan Ghalid Safadi, and all other administrative detainees, unless they are to be charged with recognizable criminal offences and tried fairly and promptly,” and to “end their long-standing attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders and halt the harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.” Amnesty also urged for an investigation into Safadi’s allegations that he was subjected to sleep deprivation and “stress positions” during his interrogation — amounting to torture — as well as denied access to a lawyer for the first 10 days of his detention….
Father of slain Palestinian teen objects to plea deal with Israeli officer
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — The father of a 17-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead at a Nakba rally outside of Ofer prison in 2014 said he strongly objected to the plea deal being prepared for the Israeli border police officer who killed his son. Siyam Nuwarah told Ma‘an Monday evening that he sent a letter to the Israeli Attorney General saying that his family was “extremely saddened” about the recently published reports regarding the Attorney General’s intent to sign a plea deal, in which the officer would receive a reduced sentence. Siyam urged the media and human rights organizations to aid him and object to the deal. Nadim Siyam Nuwarah was shot and killed with live ammunition in the chest during a protest rally marking the 66th anniversary of the Nakba on May 15, 2014. The incident was captured on video. At the same rally, 15-year-old Muhammad Audah Abu al-Thahir was also shot dead by a live bullet to the chest, and at least three other teenagers were injured by live ammunition. Israeli security forces initially denied responsibility for the teens’ deaths on the grounds that live fire wasn’t used during the demonstration, despite eyewitnesses and video evidence of the incident. An autopsy of Nuwarah’s body later showed the youth had been hit by Israeli forces, and a border police officer was charged in connection to the fatal shootings months after they took place. The indictment against the officer said he had switched rubber-coated bullets with regular bullets on an M-16 while he was present at the protest, and shot Nuwarah in the chest after he allegedly threw a stone. According to reports from Israeli media earlier this month, the manslaughter charges initially brought against Israeli Border Police officer Ben Dery could be dropped, with Dery’s lawyer telling Israeli newspaper Haaretz that prosecutors were discussing a plea bargain in which the officer would admit only to “negligence” — that a live round found its way into his magazine by mistake as opposed to a rubber-coated steel bullet….
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlements
Israeli judges order grandchildren out of Jerusalem family’s home
EI 21 Dec by Charlotte Silver — The Ghaith-Sub Laban family’s six-year legal battle to remain in their home of six decades has come to an end, as the Israeli high court made a final ruling in the family’s eviction case on Wednesday. After Jewish settlers rejected the court’s proposed compromise on Tuesday, the Israeli judges returned a more favorable verdict to the settlers: allowing the Ghaith-Sub Laban family to remain in their home for only 10 more years, and at that point terminating their protected tenancy. Without protected tenancy, the settler organization that owns the building can evict the family. But the court has ordered the descendants of Mustafa Sub Laban and Nora Ghaith, whose mother first moved into their house in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City in East Jerusalem in 1953, to leave their home. Nora and Mustafa currently live in the house with a daughter, two sons, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren aged 4 and 9. Their son Ahmad Sub Laban, a journalist and field researcher with the human rights group Ir Amim, noted that the court’s ruling evicts part of the family. If Ahmad and his brother and sister violate this stipulation, the whole family may be evicted. The high court ruling also excludes the small storage room below their house from the decision, allowing settlers to proceed to take that over. -Last family- The Ghaith-Sub Labans are the last Palestinian family remaining in the building. The others have already been evicted and replaced with Jewish settlers … Nora Ghaith-Sub Laban said the high court accepted the settlers’ claim that the house was abandoned, a claim the family has vehemently denied. “The court process and final decision starkly expose how settlers, over the course of decades, have taken advantage of land trusts to abuse Palestinian families in East Jerusalem,” Israeli human rights group Ir Amim said in a statement. Though the Ghaith-Sub Laban family have been at risk of eviction since the 1970s, they have been fighting the Kollel Galicia Trust’s determination to evict them from their home since 2010, when the Israeli government gave the group the property….
Why my family is facing eviction from our home in the Old City of Jerusalem
Salon 24 Jan 2016 by Rafat Sub Laban — For my entire life, 27 years, I have lived with the threat that I will be permanently evicted from my home in the Old City of Jerusalem. It’s a beautiful location, just 200 yards from the Dome of the Rock and offering an absolutely stunning view of the Old City’s holy sites. We have paid our rent. We have been good tenants. We have tried all legal means, including a Dec. 3 protest march, to stay in our home. Yet our “goodness” matters not at all when anti-Palestinian discrimination is the law of the land. We fear the Israeli government will turn over our home permanently to Israeli settlers. Beyond eviction, we could eventually lose our residency rights in the city as has occurred to more than 14,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites since 1967. Many of our Palestinian neighbors have already been dispossessed in an ongoing Israeli effort to “Judaize” the Old City and strip it of its longtime Muslim and Christian Palestinian population. The Israeli government established a policy to keep the Jewish population at 72 percent and the Palestinian population at 28 percent. It failed. But not from a lack of effort against us. And in key parts of the city the Palestinian presence has been dramatically cut. Imagine the outcry if American politicians tried to keep the percentage of white people in a U.S. city at 72 percent by expelling other groups. Yet Israel’s policies since its founding in 1948 have been very much about demographics and how to keep Palestinian numbers down, largely by removing us….
Israeli forces demolish room in East Jerusalem Palestinian home
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Israeli forces demolished a room in the al-Thawri area of the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Wednesday morning for allegedly lacking an Israeli-issued building permit. The owner of the room, Iyah al-Zaghal, told Ma‘an that Israeli forces, escorted by Israeli Jerusalem municipality officials, raided his home in the early morning, and began demolishing a 55-square-meter room which had been built six months ago. Al-Zaghal said that his son Hussein had lived in the room and that the family was “shocked” by the demolition, noting that it was carried out without any prior notice and that the family had hired a lawyer to postpone the demolition.
Israel govt asks court to delay settlers’ eviction
AFP 20 Dec — The Israeli government Tuesday asked the country’s supreme court for a “final” extension of a deadline to evict 40 families from a West Bank settlement outpost, the justice ministry said. The court ruled in 2014 that the settlers at Amona, northeast of Ramallah, must go because the outpost was found to have been built on private Palestinian land in the occupied territory. It gave them two years to relocate, ordering they must be gone by December 25, 2016. In a last-ditch effort to avoid evicting the politically influential settlers by force, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came up with a plan Sunday to relocate their hilltop outpost peacefully. Now he needs more time in which to implement it. “The state filed to the court a request for a final postponement of 45 days from the deadline set by the court, that is to say until February 8, 2017,” the justice ministry said in a statement. It did not say when the court would deliver its response. The agreement envisions moving 24 of the 40 families to a nearby parcel of land considered to be abandoned. Another parcel would be reserved for the remaining families. Amona residents said in a statement that the plan would see a total of 52 homes and public structures erected in the new areas. But legal issues linked to the two plots could still pose problems. Rights group Yesh Din said the Palestinian landowner of one of the plots in question was fil ing an appeal against the plan….
Palestinian landowners file claim for Amona relocation site
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — A Palestinian has filed an appeal claiming ownership of land that the Israeli government allocated for the evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Tuesday. The appeal follows a deal struck on Sunday after weeks of discussions trying to assuage settler anger over the mandated evacuation, when the government said the settlers could be moved to a nearby hilltop to lease [what] is ostensibly absentee property that has been abandoned by its owners. An objection was filed on behalf of the landowner by Attorney Shlomo Zacharia of Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, which came as the latest claim on the land to emerge since the government revealed their plan. According to Haaretz, the land in question is plot 38, where 24 housing units are supposed to be constructed for the evacuees … Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now published a map earlier this month of the four plots of land the Israeli government was setting aside for Amona’s evacuees. At the time, the appeal for plot 38 had not been submitted, nor had any appeal been submitted for 28 or 29. However, an appeal had been submitted regarding plot number 30 by one of its owners, who Peace Now said shared ownership over the entire plot with other Palestinians. “In an unprecedented move, the government now seeks to divide the plot and then use the proportion of the land which is not owned by the petitioner for the relocation of the Amona settlers,” Peace Now said….
Analysis: By making Palestinian villages invisible, Google and Apple maps facilitate their demolition
Truthout 21 Dec by David Palumbo-Liu — With President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he is nominating David Friedman to fill the post of US ambassador to Israel — a person who has declared a two-state solution to be a “suicidal peace” with “radical Islamists” and who has accused American Jews who support such a measure of being no better than Nazis — concern that further demolitions will follow under the Trump regime has added more urgency to ongoing efforts to save Palestinian villages from being demolished. The current struggle to demand that the Israeli government, Google and Apple Maps acknowledge and mark the existence of Palestinian villages, such as Susya, is a rare instance in which US politicians have stood up to Israel in a meaningful way. For many years, Israel has been intent on demolishing the Palestinian village of Susya and displacing its 300 some residents in order to build a Jewish settlement there. This historical land grab has attracted some unlikely opponents. Through a series of letters, since 2015, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, well known for her ardent support of Israel, has opposed the demolitions in a debate with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-California) also recently drew attention to this issue. She wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him “to take immediate action to prevent the demolition of the Palestinian village of Susiya,” and — according to Rabbi Arik Ascherman, co-founder of the Israeli interfaith human rights NGO Haqel (The Field) — also conveyed GPS data files to Google so that it could place hundreds of missing Palestinian villages on its maps. Similarly, Rep. Mike Honda (D-California) asked Apple to make those villages visible on its maps. Why are these mainstream liberal politicians suddenly so interested in this tiny village, and why do they see these hi-tech maps as so crucial? … One of the linchpins in Israel’s argument is that the land in question was never really inhabited by Palestinians, and here is where maps play a critical role. In his August 11, 2015, letter to Feinstein, Netanyahu claims, “Contrary to Palestinian claims that the area has been inhabited for decades, only a handful of structures continued to expand their illegal construction by exploiting a cease-and-desist order that temporarily prohibited Israel from demolishing these structures.” In contrast to this claim, Mitchell Plitnick, vice president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, notes: ‘According to the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem, “The Palestinian village of Khirbet Susiya has existed for at least a century. It appears on maps as far back as 1917 — decades before Israel began occupying the West Bank. Aerial photographs from 1980 show cultivated farmland and livestock pens, indicating the presence of an active community there.”‘ So who is right, and what evidence is there to support either claim? Maps can be essential testaments to human presence, history and culture. They are also highly politicized — shaped by the mapmaker’s own political vision, which informs the contours, dimensions, spaces and status of any item, or even its existence. In our hi-tech world, where we are so reliant on digital media to locate ourselves in our surroundings, images appear and disappear with a keystroke. And this is dangerous….
Netanyahu voices intentions of strengthening construction in West Bank
i24News 20 Dec — Nevertheless, Netanyahu also says he is looking to work with Trump on the two state solution — Israel will further boost the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said at a Likud faction meeting on Monday. At the meeting, Netanyahu referred to the Amona deal as a success since it would enable most of the settlers to remain in the vicinity of the hilltop settlement, and that Amona is just the beginning. Netanyahu was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as saying “We will continue to strengthen and develop settlements, and I want to make clear: There is not, nor will there be, a government that gives more support to settling and cares more about settling than this government we in the Likud lead.” To a foreign press gathering on Tuesday night, Netanyahu said he “cannot understand why there is a problem when Jews live in Judea and Samaria.” According to The Jerusalem Post, Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni harshly criticized Netanyahu for cutting funding from cabinet ministries, leaving the rest of the Israeli public to pay in order to fund a deal with residents of Amona….
Israel to move Bethlehem-area checkpoint deeper into Palestinian territory
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — Israeli authorities plan to relocate a permanent Israeli military checkpoint between the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem and Jerusalem a few kilometers further into Palestinian territory, a move which would deprive Palestinian residents of access to hundreds of acres of private Palestinian land, Israeli media reported on Tuesday. The Hebrew language version of Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the decision to move the checkpoint, located near the village of al-Walaja, was demanded by Israel’s Ministry of Defense, adding that the move would cut off the village’s residents from several hundred acres of their privately owned land located in the outskirts of the village. Rights groups have pointed out that the decision is part of a larger plan to deny Palestinians access to a natural spring in al-Walaja, known as ‘Ain al-Haniyeh. The spring is near land that has been planned as a visitors’ center for an Israeli national park expected to consume large tracts of Palestinian land in al-Walaja. The place has long been a popular site for Palestinians, especially residents in the Bethlehem area, and has maintained an important religious significance to Christians, as Christian monks frequent the site and bathe in the freshwater spring. Local Palestinian shepherds also rely on the fresh spring to refresh their sheep while herding in the area … Israeli authorities will also resume construction of the separation wall around al-Walaja that includes a section which would isolate the privately held land of Ain al-Haniyeh, making the site inaccessible to local residents, according to Haaretz….
PA ministry condemns Israeli plans to restrict Palestinian access to Ain al-Haniyeh
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned Israel’s plans to relocate the al-Walaja permanent checkpoint between the occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem and Jerusalem further into Palestinian territory in a statement released Wednesday, calling upon UNESCO and other international organizations to intervene and prevent the annexation of Palestinian land. On Tuesday, Israeli media reported that Israeli authorities were planning on moving the checkpoint before a natural spring in al-Walaja known as ‘Ain al-Haniyeh, which would cut off Palestinian access to the area and isolate several hundred acres of privately owned Palestinian land in the outskirts of the village. The ‘Ain al-Haniyeh spring is near land which has been set aside for a visitors’ center for an Israeli national park expected to consume large tracts of Palestinian land in al-Walaja. The ministry demanded in the statement that Israeli authorities reverse the decision to take over the lands, while “guaranteeing the safety” for Palestinians who want to access Ain al-Haniyeh and their lands around the area. The ministry also called upon international organizations, particularly UNESCO, to immediately intervene to protect Palestinian historical areas from Israeli attempts at “Judaization” and annexation, and added that it would form a Palestinian delegation at UNESCO to present an urgent protest to the organization about Israeli annexation plans….
Israel orders evacuation of 15 families in Jordan Valley for military exercises
TUBAS (Ma‘an) 20 Dec — More than a dozen Palestinian Bedouin families were delivered evacuation warrants by Israeli authorities on Monday, ordering them to temporarily leave their homes for Israeli military drills. Muataz Bisharat, Palestinian official who monitors settler activities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma‘an that 85 people from 15 different families in Khirbet Ibziq north of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley would have to evacuate. He said the Israeli Civil Administration delivered the written warrants, which ordered the families to vacate on Tuesday and Wednesday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. due to the Israeli military drills. Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley regularly face evacuations and interruption due to Israeli military exercises on or near their land. The district of Tubas, meanwhile, is one of the occupied West Bank’s most important agricultural centers….
Israel snubs court with plan to open West Bank quarry
Haaretz 22 Dec by Zafrir Rinat — The state plans to allow another Israeli-owned quarry to open in the West Bank, despite having promised the High Court of Justice five years ago it would not sanction further Israeli-owned rock mining companies in the territories. Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank says the Jordan Valley site was approved for quarrying long before this commitment was made. The plan for the quarry came to light during hearings about another High Court petition, filed by residents of the West Bank village of ‘Aqraba, demanding the return of land seized by the army and against it being allocated to settlers in nearby Gitit or to be used for other purposes such as quarrying … About 10 Israeli-owned quarries operate in the West Bank. They supply about a quarter of mined stone and marble used for Israeli construction. Six years ago, the Yesh Din organization asked the court to order Israeli-owned quarries to cease operations in the West Bank, arguing that using natural resources in occupied territory for the benefit of the occupying power violates international law….
Egyptian electricity lines feeding southern Gaza Strip damaged
GAZA (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Gaza’s power company said in a statement on Wednesday that Egyptian power lines feeding the besieged Gaza Strip were damaged due to complications at the power plant in Arish city in the North Sinai. The damage in the Egyptian lines caused confusion in the electricity distribution to the coastal enclave, and has cut the electricity for more than 16 hours a day in the southern part of Gaza, according to the statement. Egypt supplies more than 20 megawatts of electricity to the Gaza Strip through three power lines.
Israeli military opens fire at farmers, fishermen in Gaza
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Dec — Israeli forces, on Tuesday morning, opened fire at Palestinian farmers and fishermen during separate incidents, in the north and south of the Gaza Strip, local sources said. Israeli forces deployed at borderline military outposts east of Maghazi refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip, and east of Khan Younis, south of the Strip, opened fire at farmers who were working on their land, said the sources. There were no reports of casualties, according to WAFA correspondents, but the farmers left the area in fear for their lives. Israeli navy forces also opened fire at fishermen sailing off the northern coast of the Strip. No injuries were reported, however.
UN sees steep Gaza population growth in 30 years, with economic problems ahead
GAZA (Reuters) 20 Dec by Nidal al-Mughrabi — Gaza’s population will more than double in about 30 years, signaling even more serious economic problems ahead for Palestinians in the small enclave if the conflict with Israel is not resolved, a U.N. official said on Tuesday. Andres Thomsen, of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), told Reuters “it will be very hard to imagine that you can create the right conditions for (economic) growth that can accommodate this dramatic population increase”, without easing Israel’s Gaza blockade. He was commenting on a new UNFPA report examining demographic changes and opportunities for development in the Gaza Strip and Israeli-occupied West Bank. The report forecast an increase in Gaza’s population of 2 million to 4.8 million in 2050, outpacing that of the West Bank, where the number of people is predicted to rise from the current 2.9 million to 4.7 million. Thomsen said that even by 2030 there would be 1.3 million additional people in Gaza, territory ruled by the Hamas Islamist group, and meeting their needs will be challenging … The World Bank has also cited a nearly 50 percent decrease in foreign support for the Palestinian Authority in the past three years as a factor in what it has described as a worrying Palestinian economic outlook….
Mobile ‘clothesline gallery’ a hit with Gaza’s younger generation
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 19 Dec by Ali Dolah — Freelance photographer Mahmoud “Ezz” al-Zaanoun brings moments of joy to Gaza children with exhibitions of his photos on his mobile clothesline gallery — An exhibition of works by photographer Mahmoud “Ezz” al-Zaanoun has been traveling around the Gaza Strip since Sept. 25, starting at the Beach camp. However, his images depicting a Gaza most people never imagine aren’t hanging on the walls of a gallery or museum, but on clotheslines strung in the alleys of the poorest and most populated refugee camps in Gaza and in neighborhoods devastated by war with Israel. Under the banner “Arts Are Not a Business,” Zaanoun goes to devastated areas and marginalized camps to affirm that the arts are the best tool for delivering the message to Israel that Palestinians have a love for life and can use the simplest of tools to create joy. For his exhibits, Zaanoun enlists the help of local Palestinian children to attach regular clothesline to the sides of buildings and walls and hang his photos from them. After they finish the installation, the children take a closer look at the images, and Zaanoun explains the details of each one, such as where and how they were taken, and answers the children’s questions about them … Zaanoun likes to take pictures of nice scenes from Gaza, showing its bright sides, to send to the world the message that Palestinians deserve to live free and decent lives filled with love and joy … Through shots representing life and hope, Zaanoun reveals the rarely imagined side of Gaza. “I tried to be unique with photos reflecting the sunset and showing children on bicycles and people playing in the sand at the seashore. Also, the photos were taken from a low angle to be flattering.”….
Gazan girl turns walls into canvas for giant paintings
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 21 Dec by Nirmine al-Jadi — On a hilltop in the Shajaiya neighborhood in the eastern part of Gaza City, which was extensively damaged by the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014, lives Ansam Raed Saleh al-Wadiya. The teenager has turned the walls of her house into murals in an expression of her emotions and imagination, attracting visitors despite the piles of stone and rubble they must pass in the streets to get there. The eyes of Ansam, 16, show hope and strength, and her paintings carry the viewer to a world of peace and calm. She has worked on the murals for many long nights, and spent much time creating the drawings that she included in her painting booklet and on the walls of Dalal al-Mughrabi High School. The walls of her house are covered in about 20 paintings each, which include architectural shapes, nature scenes and cartoon characters. She told Al-Monitor, “I started drawing on walls after the Israeli warplanes shelled our house two years ago. I tried to find a place to shelter my dreams through painting. I could not find it in Gaza, and I decided to realize my dreams between the rubble and sand, and transform our house into a [giant] painting that everyone would visit.” Despite the tough economic situation — due to rising unemployment and lack of job opportunities that have taken a toll on Ansam’s family of 12 — her mother, Sahar, is her biggest supporter. She gave Ansam her painting kit to help her develop her skills and keep her dreams alive through drawing….
Global foundation renews its commitment to young people in Gaza by awarding 265 new scholarships
GAZA STRIP (PNN) 21 Dec — Education Above All (EAA), through its programme Al Fakhoora, awarded 265 new scholarships to young leaders in the Gaza Strip. This will enable young people to attend university, build a better future for themselves and their families, and lead their communities toward a more peaceful future. These scholarships represent an unprecedented investment in higher education in Gaza. It is the largest ever intake for Al Fakhoora’s scholarship programme, Dynamic Futures, which is operated through an implementation partnership with the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Assistance to the Palestinian People programme in Gaza. In the past year, Dynamic Futures has also expanded to reach additional students in Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Syrian refugees and IDP’s in Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq.
Palestinian refugees, Syria and Lebanon
Syria: 3,411 Palestinians killed since outbreak of violence
IMEMC/Agencies 21 Dec — The action group “Palestinians of Syria” has documented the death of 3,411 Palestinians in Syria since the outbreak of events, 455 of which are women. The NGO published, on Monday evening, a report in which it documented the death toll of Palestinians in Syria, due to the ongoing violent clashes which have now lasted over five years. The report noted bombing, sniper shooting, armed clashes, siege and drowning in the sea as the main causes of death, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency. The report noted that about 1,277 of the Palestinians counted were killed in Yarmouk refugee camp.
3 Palestinians killed in shooting incident in Lebanon’s Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Three Palestinians were shot dead in Lebanon’s ‘Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, while four others were injured, during a shooting incident in the camp on Wednesday. Lebanon’s national news agency reported that two Palestinians, Mahmoud Abdel Karim Saleh and Mahmoud Ibrahim Abu al-Yaman, were killed following the initial killing of Samer Hamid, which was reported as an “assassination.” The agency reported that around 4 pm the situation remained “tense” in the camp, with gunshots still being heard, while Palestinian “contacts” were attempting to broker a ceasefire between the gunmen. The reasons behind the conflict breaking out remained unclear as of Wednesday. The camp has also been the site of recent confrontations between its Palestinian residents and the Lebanese army. The largest and most crowded refugee camp in Lebanon, ‘Ain al-Hilweh is home to some 54,116 registered refugees who fled their villages during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, according to the UN. However, the population significantly increased since 2011 as a result of the Syrian war, as Palestinians have been displaced a second time from refugee camps across Syria, with development nonprofit organization Anera estimating the camp’s population to be closer to 120,000….
In video, Boycott Israeli Wines campaign targets another government store in Vancouver, Canada
Palestine Chronicle 20 Dec by Hanna Kawas — The Boycott Israeli Wines campaign in Vancouver, Canada held another flash action and picket on Dec. 17, despite the unusually cold temperatures in the city. The activists initially went into the government liquor store, and showed real “holiday spirit” with their chants and singing. The manager of the store was made aware that the 3 brands of Israeli wines that are stocked there are all from stolen Arab and Palestinian land, thus rendering the BC Government complicit in human rights violations. One brand in particular, the Teperberg Vision Malbec, even openly brags on its website that the vineyard that contributes grapes for this wine is in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mevo Horon. This settler enclave is in the Latrun area of the occupied Palestinian West Bank and is also close to the infamous “Canada Park” built by the Jewish National Fund with Canadian tax-deductible monies. The picket then moved outside of the store, where leaflets were handed out to many passersby. Palestinian flags flew high as more chants and singing happened on the busy street corner in one of Vancouver’s densest shopping areas. Activists succeeded in getting their message out, both inside and outside the store, and their chant of Boycott Israeli Wine, Free Free Palestine was heard loud and clear!
PLC: Abbas’ removal of parliamentary immunity of members ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — For the first time since 2007, Palestinian lawmakers affiliated with the Fatah movement participated in a meeting at the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning, and declared a recent decision by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to strip certain officials of their parliamentary immunity illegal and unconstitutional. According to lawmakers present at the meeting, five Fatah-affiliated lawmakers attended the meeting dedicated to a discussion on a recent decision made by Abbas to remove parliamentary immunity for a number of lawmakers. A Fatah-affiliated lawmaker from the occupied West Bank also participated in the meeting by phone. Last week, Abbas revoked parliamentary immunity for five parliamentarians: Shami al-Shami, Najat Abu Bakr, Nasser Juma, Jamal Tirawi, and Abbas’ longtime rival Muhammed Dahlan, who was also sentenced in absentia to three years in prison after convicting him of allegedly embezzling $16 million. Abbas’ move was quickly condemned as a political maneuver to maintain the leader’s control over the PA government and squelch his political rivals amid mounting unpopularity for Abbas’ more than a decade-long domination over Palestinian politics….
Palestinian forces bust money counterfeiting laboratory in Tulkarem
[with photos] TULKAREM (Ma‘an) 21 Dec — Palestinian preventive security forces arrested two Palestinians in the northern occupied West Bank of Tulkarem earlier this week and seized tools used to counterfeit money. The head of the Palestinian preventive security forces in Tulkarem, Muhammad Zakarna, told Ma‘an that Palestinian police forces raided an apartment in the city after receiving information that it was hosting a laboratory for money counterfeiting. Zakarna added that chemicals and tools were found in the apartment, in addition to more than a hundred counterfeit 200-shekel bills and unspecified amounts of money. Zakarna added that two suspects were arrested, and that the investigation was still open to identify and apprehend other members of the operation, noting that the counterfeiting ring was believed to have been in operation for several months. This case is believed to be the first in which Palestinian security forces apprehended a counterfeiting laboratory.
Future of PA tested in West Bank’s lawless alleys
NABLUS (EI) 21 Dec by Matt Broomfield — It was billed as a conference to unite Fatah. And Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority leader who was unanimously re-elected as Fatah chairman, can look back with satisfaction at a conference that passed without incident or surprise. But Fatah’s seventh general conference also papered over some serious cracks in the movement – cracks that have ruptured violently in the lawless alleys of the West Bank’s refugee camps, and that the conference did nothing to address. Foremost among those is the struggle between supporters of the exiled former Gaza security chief Muhammad Dahlan – who were not invited to the five-day Ramallah parley – and Abbas loyalists. Gunmen seen as affiliated to Dahlan and loyal to local power-brokers have been locked in an escalating series of running battles with PA security forces. Both sides have seen several casualties, amid accusations of extrajudicial killings and a lethal beating in PA custody. Nowhere has this violence been more deadly than in Nablus. Long a crucible of political unrest, the northern West Bank city has also been the scene of some dozen fatalities in internecine Palestinian violence this year. The last casualty was a woman killed in crossfire in the Old City in November. And armed fighters, would-be peacemakers and beleaguered refugees all described a city lurching towards civil war. -City of internecine war- Balata is the largest and most febrile West Bank refugee camp. Some 30,000 Palestinians share just 2 square km of land, and unemployment is rife. Its narrow alleyways are plastered with martyr posters commemorating men slain fighting the Israeli occupation. They still ring regularly with gunfire, but only some of that is directed at Israeli soldiers: here, members of armed groups also regularly engage Palestinian security forces, and criminals shoot at other criminals. At the time of writing, gunmen blamed for a fatal shooting were hiding out in Balata, while a local youth was recently shot dead there by unknown assailants….
UN council to vote Thursday on end to Israeli settlements
UNITED NATIONS 21 Dec by Michelle Nichols — The United Nations Security Council is due to vote on Thursday on a draft resolution that would demand that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” Egypt circulated the draft on Wednesday evening and the 15-member council is due to vote at 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Thursday, diplomats said. They said it was unclear how the United States, which has protected Israel from U.N. action, would vote. The White House declined to comment. Some council diplomats hope President Barack Obama, who has had a rocky relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, may allow Security Council action by abstaining on the vote. In a post on Twitter, Netanyahu said the United States “should veto the anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.” The tweet gave no indication whether Israel had been informed of how Washington planned to vote. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, France, Russia, Britain or China to be adopted. U.N. diplomats see the resolution as a final chance for council action on the Middle East before Republican President-elect Donald Trump succeeds Democrat Obama on Jan. 20. Trump has signaled he would support Israel in a number of critical areas and not pressure it to engage in talks with the Palestinians. Obama’s administration has been highly critical of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. U.S. officials said this month, however, that Obama was not expected to make major moves on Israeli-Palestinian peace before leaving office….
In town of Jesus’ birth, craftsmen take on Chinese knockoffs
BETHLEHEM (AP) 21 Dec by Isma‘il Kushkush — Christmas is approaching and pilgrims and tourists have begun to arrive, crowding the souvenir shops that line the narrow streets and alleys of Bethlehem, the biblical town revered as Jesus’ birthplace. But when visitors choose to take a piece of the Holy Land back home with them, they better check the labels. Many souvenirs — including the West Bank town’s trademark rosary beads — are imported from abroad, mainly China. A small number of souvenir shops are now trying to fight the trend, stocking their shelves almost exclusively with locally made products. Shopkeepers say that while their wares may be more expensive, the quality is much better and they give an important boost to the struggling economy. “I’ve got nothing that is made overseas except for one thing, that’s the magnets. It’s something that sells for cheap and people want them,” said Bassem Giacaman, owner of the Blessings Gift Shop and The Olive Wood Factory. “Everything else is made locally so I can keep the local economy working.” Some 120,000 people are expected to visit the Holy Land this holiday season, half of them Christian, according to Israel’s Tourism Ministry. Many will visit Bethlehem, where globalization has left its imprint like everywhere else. Foreign-made crafts, especially Chinese ones, have come to represent a big part of the market here, including Christmas souvenirs. While there are no official statistics, local officials and businessmen estimate that nearly half of the products, perhaps more, are imported. Giacaman keeps just a few imported products in his store, most of them hidden in a small box beneath a counter. He takes them out to show customers and compare them to Palestinian-made ones. “This is a plastic Jesus baby made in China and this is a ceramic one made in Bethlehem, and these are the olive wood rosaries that I make and the Chinese ones,” he said, proudly showing what he said was the superior craftsmanship of the locally made goods….
Domari Gypsies carve out niche in Jerusalem
Palestine Monitor 13 Dec by PM collaborators — Decades of conflict have sliced this region down the middle. But Amoun Sleem is one of those whose identity cannot be carefully placed on either side of the Green Line. “Palestinians feel different from me. But Israelis consider me Palestinian,” she explains. I am neither – but am stuck in the middle between the two!” Sleem is a Domari, an ethnic group of Gypsies who arrived from India, via Persia, in the 6th century. About two million are scattered around the Middle East, with twenty thousand living in Israel and the West Bank. And although most Domari have integrated into the local Palestinian society – most are Muslim and all speak Arabic – they still preserve their distinctive culture. Older Domari, for example, speak their own language. They still make a unique kind of vibrant jewellery. Domari also have their own cuisine, which includes kishk, a type of fermented yoghurt found throughout central Asia, and have distinct surnames. Sleem does much to protect this culture herself. In 1999, she founded the Domari Society of Gypsies in Jerusalem, dedicated to spreading public awareness about the rich history of the Domari people. For her part, Sleem grew up huddled together with about seventy other Domari families in the shadow of the Al-Aqsa mosque, in the heart of Jerusalem’s old city….
Tunisians protest killing of Hamas drone expert; 10 arrested
TUNIS (AP) 20 Dec — Protests are planned in Tunisia over the killing of the head of Palestinian militant group Hamas’ drone program in a Tunisian beach resort. Hamas accuses Israel of assassinating him. In addition to Tuesday’s protests, Tunisia’s Parliament is expected to hold a special session in the coming days to discuss the killing, which critics call an attack on Tunisia’s national sovereignty. Tunisian authorities have arrested 10 people over the shooting of Tunisian aviation engineer Mohammed Alzoari, according to Interior Minister Hedi Medjoub. The minister told reporters late Monday that Tunisian authorities aren’t ruling out Israel’s involvement. He said investigators have determined the killing was ordered by two foreigners and plotted from Hungary and Austria. Hamas says Alzoari led the development of its drones. The Israeli military has not commented
Opinion: Hooray for assassinations / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 22 Dec — What would happen if someone assassinated an engineer working for Israel Aerospace Industries or Rafael Advanced Defense Systems? What would Israel say then? And which countries murder people far from their borders? The assassination of Mohammed Zawahri, who was grotesquely described in Israel as “the head of Hamas’ aerial corps,” was greeted here with admiring whistles, and only admiring whistles, which are within the bounds of what’s allowed. Of course no one knows who perpetrated the assassination; perhaps it was the death squads of the principality of Lichtenstein, or the intelligence agencies of the Central African Republic. Military reporters and analysts mindlessly repeated what they’re allowed to repeat, a hint of a mysterious smile playing on their lips – the one reserved for secrets like these – and exchanged silent winks with the news presenters, who may also have been in on the secret … Back in 1988, not far from the place where Zawahri was murdered, Israel murdered Abu Jihad in front of his wife and children in an operation given the poetic name “Show of Force.” Its perpetrators, from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, boasted of it for years afterward. The murder raised many questions; Abu Jihad could have strengthened the Palestinian leadership when an agreement was reached. But Israelis aren’t crying over his spilled blood. Perhaps there’s also no need to cry for Zawahri’s blood. But it’s impossible to accept his assassination automatically and blindly as either legitimate or desirable for Israel. The enormous admiration for his murder will doubtless encourage the commission of other such acts. And anyone who dares to voice doubts will be told, “What do you know?” Under this cover, it’s possible to do anything…..
Hunt for female Palestinian college student whose car was found abandoned at a Vermont swimming hole four days ago
AP/Ashley Collman for Daily Mail 20 Dec — UPDATE WRGB Vermont: Vermont State Police tell us they believe a body found by divers today in Dorset, is Hadil Marzouq. Vermont State Police are searching for a Bennington College student who was reported missing over the weekend after her car was discovered at a swimming hole in Green Mountain National Forest. Troopers say 20-year-old Hadil Marzouq, from Palestine [Bethlehem], left a Bennington residence where she was staying on Saturday, and didn’t return. She was reported missing on Sunday. Police say her vehicle was discovered Sunday at Dorset Quarry next to Vermont Route 30 Sunday night, about a 40 minute drive north from the Bennington campus. Temperatures in Dorset have been as low as the single digits [F.] since Saturday …According to friends on Facebook, Marzoug attended the United World College Mastrict, a K-12 school in the Netherlands, before moving to the U.S. two years ago for college. Friend Asad Malik wrote on Facebook that Marzouq is ‘one of the bravest people I have in my life’. He said that the ‘last two days have been exceptionally hard’. Another friend described Marzouq as ‘one of the kindest and most genuinely good people to walk this Earth’. Dorset quarry, where Marzoug’s car was found, is a popular swimming hole in the summer months. It is the nation’s oldest quarry.
Israeli reservists demand to be sent to help wounded Syrians
Haaretz 18 Dec by Gili Cohen — Doctors in the Israeli army reserve demanded Saturday that the Israel Defense Forces call them up and send them to Syria to treat people wounded in the civil war. In a letter to IDF Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eisenkot, doctors from the Paratroopers Brigade said that soldiers cannot just be passive “witnesses” to the “indiscriminate slaughter” taking place in Syria. “We know there are security considerations, and we know there are diplomatic considerations. But there is a principle, there is a truth, and there is morality: We must demand from ourselves to be there for them,” Israeli news site 04040 quoted the doctors as writing. The letter, which has yet to be received by the IDF’s top brass, will also be sent to the head of the Israeli army’s medical corps. Israel has given medical care to over 2,600 Syrians, some in special field hospitals set up along the border, but also in Israeli medical centers. A special directorate that offers humanitarian aid to Syrians has also been established recently. Erez Eshel, a reserve lieutenant colonel, took to Facebook with a similar demand. “Is it not only proper that we organize 1,000 combat reserve officers to go to the Prime Minister’s Office during a cabinet meeting and tell them: ‘Mr. prime minister, we are ready to go to war, now in Syria; we are ready to kill and be killed, just to stop the slaughter of women and children taking place there now?”